Trumpism is to the political bloodstream what heroin is to the human and there are a lot of very sick GOPers out there right now. Trump will be gone in 63 days, but there is much elbowing and jostling for the new poster child of Trumpism, and Ted Cruz wants to make sure that he’s not left out. So he stuck his nose into the contretemps between Sherrod Brown and Dan Sullivan, and sounded as Trumpesque as possible.
This is idiotic. @SherrodBrown is being a complete ass. He wears a mask to speak—when nobody is remotely near him—as an ostentatious sign of fake virtue.@DanSullivan_AK was over 50 feet away, presiding. Last I checked 50 feet is more than 6 feet. https://t.co/BoIGrAV7T1
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 17, 2020
The point of the tweet, according to Charlie Sykes at the Bulwark was not to actually weigh in on the issue but to be an exercise in “performative assholery” — which is as good a definition of Trump and Trumpism as I have ever heard. That’s precisely what it is, performing for the base. Give ’em their bread and circus. Ted Cruz trying to out-asshole the man who called his wife ugly and said that his father killed JFK is a tall order, but Cruz may well be up to it. He’s been in training for many years.
Strictly speaking, this is not a new thing for Ted Cruz, who has made a career out of jerkitude. Recall that, back in 2016, no less a jerk than Lindsey Graham gibed that, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.”
“Everybody who knows him in the Senate hates him,” noted the late columnist Charles Krauthammer. “And I think hate is not an exaggeration.”
Former SpeakerJohn Boehner remarked that he had “never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life,” and called him “Lucifer.”
Maybe Cruz is what drove Boehner to drink, who knows? In all events, the people who worship devils don’t want to accept Ted Cruz into their ranks, he’s too weird even for them.
That was too much for the actual Satanists, who felt the need to issue a statement disavowing the Texas senator. “It grows tedious when pedophile priests and loathsome politicians are conveniently dismissed as Satanic,” insisted a spokesman for the Satanic Temple, “even as they spew Biblical verse and prostrate themselves before the cross, recruiting the Christian faithful. Satanists will have nothing to do with them.”
This is the new face of the GOP, performance art in lieu of governance. And why not? They just watched it work out to specular success, in the case of the last Republican president. He’s got wingnuts marching in the streets, to his tweeted orders. On the level, this is how Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, Doug Collins, Marjorie Taylor Greene and a slew of others see politics these days. This is Donald Trump’s legacy.
Which brings us to the New Ted Cruz, who is very much like the Old Ted Cruz, except for the performative part. As he jostles for his lane in the post-Trump GOP, Cruz has largely eschewed wonkery and policy. Instead, he has embraced what he imagines to be the essence of Trump’s appeal.
He also aspires to Trump’s twitter game, complete with the juvenile insults. The 2024 race has already begun, and Cruz is already telling us how he intends to run.
Just one more reminder that there is one functioning major political party in this country and then there is the GOP — and this is the condition they’re in. No punditry here, just stating the glaringly obvious.